The Daring Damiano

The Petrov (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6) has a reputation for being drawish. But that doesn’t mean that there no pitfalls.


Let’s take a look at one of them, sometimes called “The Daring Damiano” (don’t ask me why).


The moves are 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4. Although White has several moves available to choose from, he almost always chooses 4.Qe2. The main reason is that it activates his queen and he can quickly win the game if Black stumbles.


Let’s take a look at a common (at least among beginners) trap from this position and let’s call it “Ancient Chess Trap” (or ACT). The moves that make this (bad) variation are (in case you need review all the move so far) are : 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2, and now Black can lose quickly lose with 4…Nf6??


5.Nc6+! +-


This trap is one worth remembering as it can come up in other openings and is a nice way to end a rated game early enough so you can enjoy playing blitz chess for the rest of the day.


After the better 4…Qe7, the game can continue with 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 [Black almost has to take the pawn. After 6.d4 Nd7, White won nicely with 6.d4 Nd7 7.f4!? f6?! 8.Be2 fxe5 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.O-O exd4 11.Bh5+ Kd8 12.Bg5 Nf6 13.Rxf6 Qxe4 14.Rd6# 1-0 (Steinkuehler-Horwitz, Manchester 1961).] 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5, giving Black a decent chance.

This was starting point for Hertan’s article in the February 1990 issue of Chess Life. By the way, his article was titled, “The Daring Damiano”. It may the first time anyone has used the term to describe this variation in the Petrov.


The big question here, is how should White continue? The answer is not clear.


9.Bb5+ doesn’t look so good after the obvious 9…c6. In addition, Sapfirov-Yaroslavsev, USSR 1971, continued with 9.Bb5+ Nd7!? 10.O-O Bxc2 11.Bf4 c6 12.Be2 Bf5 13.Nc3 Be7 = (ECO evaluation). So Black can at least equalize.

It turns out that 9.Bd3 is an error as Black can continue with 9.Bd3? Bxd3 10.cxd3 Nc6 and his development is no worse than White and Black may already have the advantage.


9.c3 has possibilities. After 9.c3 Nd7 10.f4 O-O-O 11.Be3 f6 (this move deserves either !? or ?!), Black won after 12.Be2 fxe5 13.O-O exf4 14.Rxf4 Re8 15.Rxf5 Rxe3 16.Bg4 h5 17.Kf2 Re4 18.Bh3 g6 19.Nd2 gxf5 0-1 (R. Oosting (1983)-FM S. Muehlenhaus (2199), HZ Open, Netherlands Aug. 6 2017).

Other games with 9.c3


Thessaloniki Ol., 1984
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bf4 O-O-O 11.Nd2 Bc5 12.Nb3 Bb6 13.Nd4 Bg6 14.O-O-O Rde8 15.Re1 Nc5 16.Bc4 Rhf8 17.Rd1 Re7 18.f3 Rfe8 19.Rhe1 Nd7 20.e6 fxe6 21.Bxe6 Kb8 22.Bxd7 Rxe1 23.Bxe8 Rxe8 24.Bg3 Kc8 25.Re1 Rxe1+ 26.Bxe1 Bxd4 27.cxd4 Kd7 28.Bg3 Bd3 29.Be5 Bf1 30.g3 Be2 31.Bxg7 Bxf3 32.Kd2 Ke6 33.Ke3 Bd5 34.a3 Kf5 35.Be5 c6 36.Bb8 a6 37.Kd3 Ke6 38.Kc3 Kd7 39.Kb4 b6 40.Kc3 Kc8 41.Be5 Kd7 42.Kd3 Ke6 43.Bc7 b5 44.Kc3 Kd7 45.Bb6 Be6 46.Kb4 Kd6 47.Ka5 Bc8 48.Bc5+ Kc7 49.Kb4 Bf5 50.Kc3 Kd7 51.Kd2 Ke6 52.Ke3 h5 53.Kf4 Kf6 54.Be7+ Kg6 55.Ke5 a5 56.Kd6 Be4 57.a4 bxa4 58.Bd8 Bd5 59.Bxa5 Kg5 60.h3 Kf5 61.g4+ 1/2-1/2


Badenweiler Open
Germany, 1988
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bf4 O-O-O 11.Nd2 Re8 12.Nc4 f6 13.O-O-O fxe5 14.Bg3 g6 15.Bd3 Bg7 16.Bc2 h5 17.h4 Nc5 18.Rhe1 e4 19.Bf4 a6 20.Ne3 Rhf8 21.Bg3 Bh6 22.Kb1 Nd3 23.Nxf5 gxf5 24.Bxd3 exd3 25.Rxe8+ Rxe8 26.Rxd3 Re1+ 27.Kc2 Re2+ 28.Kd1 Rxb2 29.Rf3 Rd2+ 30.Ke1 Rxa2 31.Rxf5 Bd2+ 32.Kd1 Bxc3 33.Rf8+ Kd7 34.Rf7+ Ke6 35.Rxc7 Be5 36.Bxe5 Kxe5 1/2-1/2


Jolanta Zawadzka (243200-Ewa Harazinska (2310)
Polish Women’s Ch.
Poznan, Apr. 1 2016
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bf4 O-O-O 11.Bc4 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Re8 13.f4 f6 14.O-O fxe5 15.fxe5 Bc5+ 16.Kh1 Bxb1 17.Raxb1 Rxe5 18.Bd3 h6 19.b4 Be7 20.Bf5+ Kb8 21.Bg4 Bf6 22.Bf3 Re3 23.c4 Rd8 24.a4 c6 25.a5 Kc7 26.b5 cxb5 27.Rxb5 b6 28.c5 bxc5 29.Rxc5+ Kd6 30.Rc6+ Ke7 31.Rb1 Rd6 32.Rc7+ Rd7 33.Rc4 Rd4 34.Rcc1 Ra3 35.Rb7+ Rd7 36.Re1+ Kd8 37.Rb8+ Kc7 38.Rb7+ Kd8 39.Rb5 Bc3 40.Rb8+ Kc7 41.Rb7+ Kd8 42.Rb8+ Kc7 43.Rb7+ 1/2-1/2
White can offer a pawn with 9.Nc3. Black should not take it and play the most reasonable development move; 9…Nc6. The c-pawn is still vulnerable, and Black is free to castle queenside, giving his king safety and his activity to his rook.


Finally, White can sidestep this variation with 6.d4 dxe5 7.dxe5 Nc6. But that is for another post.

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